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Bayo’s OCD Story

Bayo was on the path to making partner at the IT firm, where he worked or so he had thought. He always projected that by 35 years, he would have made partner and start to enjoy all the privileges and bonuses that came with the position. Only then would he allow himself to start thinking of marriage. To the chagrin of his parents, for Bayo who by the way was their only son, it had always been to make partner first and then get married. They had finally accepted this and switched their prayer points into him making partner quicker, so he could finally bring a wife home and give them more grandchildren.

But with his recent emotional health experiences, Bayo saw himself outrightly losing the job soon. He didn’t think his bosses could keep up this level of understanding and patience for much longer. He was at his wits end already, to say he was fed up with life would be a mild way of communicating his distress and frustration. How else could he handle and explain the nature and quality of his thoughts and actions these days? Emphasis on HIS thoughts, he is well aware that he is the one thinking it up and he is the one who carries out the actions to get a measure of relief from the anxiety that comes with the thoughts.

So the other day again, He was well on his way to work on a Monday Morning when the thought entered his mind that he had forgotten to switch off the gas cooker after making a quick breakfast that morning. An anxiety evoking image of his entire apartment up in flames flashed before his eyes and he quickly called to his driver, to turn the car around. It was so embarrassing to do this all the time. Bassey, his driver never complained though and respectfully always turned the car in the direction of home. But then again, for how long will this go on?! With shaking hands, he opened the front door and ran to the kitchen where everything was calm and neatly arranged as he had left them. No burning pot, no fire, no smoke, nothing. He had in fact, switched off the gas cooker and even removed the regulator from the cylinder to avoid any accident. Afterall, one could never be too careful. Some days he could resist the impulse to make Bassey take him back home but on many bad days like today, his anxiety only got relieved by going back home to check.

So when he had checked the gas, he would move on to the fridge, to check if he had jammed the door properly, open, close, open, close... goes the fridge door for some minutes, before he would move on to repeatedly touch the tap over and over to see if it was locked tightly and despite seeing it was, he irrationally still found himself putting his hand under to be sure there was no water dripping from it. When he was done with these indoor checking rituals, which could have lasted as long as 30mins or sometimes more! He would finally step out of the house and then the battle with the front door would begin. After turning the lock on the door, with the click confirming the door has been locked, he would again and again, use his body to lean forcefully into it, while at the same time turning the handle to see if the door is indeed locked. Not altogether reassured, but very embarrassed, because Bassey is sitting patiently in the car and quietly observing all his actions at the door he gets back in the car. He wonders what goes on in Bassey’s head, but Bassey has never uttered more words than “Oga should I head for the office now?” To which he would muster a “sure Bassey” response.

This of course meant he got to work 1hour to 1.30mins later than he was expected in the office. In the last one year, he could count off his finger tips, how many times he got to work earlier than the 7.45am clock in time for him.

What about the thought that his hand was contaminated by germs from touching other people’s things, shaking his colleagues hand at work, collecting the car keys from Bassey? The list and scenarios were endless. Last week, he almost bit off the head of one of his colleagues at work because he touched his computer mouse without permission. When he left, he quickly used his ever-nearby hand sanitizer and tissue to clean the mouse. When he could not decide if the mouse was clean enough. He threw it in the thrash and went to the store nearby to get a new one. So it's this fear of contamination that informs the repeated hand washing, to the extent that his palms were now very itchy and peeling. Bayo washes his hands like its going out of fashion; he washes his hands if he goes to the bedroom to check something while watching Netflix, he washes his hands if talks to anyone for more than 5 minutes, he washes his hands if he is made to shake anyone’s hands for official reasons, after touching money he definitely ran to wash to his hands. Bassey had noticed his discomfort at collecting the car keys from him at the end of the day, so now he drops it into his Oga’s laptop bag where he would retrieve it from the next morning.

On his good days, Bayo was cheerful and cordial but he drew the line at shaking people’s hands, and he hated being touched. He used to be a very religious person, but these days he found himself avoiding religious activities. While praying, blasphemous thoughts about God intruded into his mind, thoughts such as “God is stupid or God is mad”. Of late it was that “God is useless and dead”, and no matter how distressing he found these thoughts and tried to not think about it or force it out of his mind, it was always there! If he didn't know better, it would be enough for him to think of himself as possessed by something.

The moment he was back home again in the evening, he was back at it again. Why did he have to do all this repeatedly?! For goodness sakes, he knew he had locked the door, just as he came into the house. But, he would find himself checking for the umpteenth time before he went to bed at night.

His parents had noticed his obsessive need for cleanliness whilst he was an adolescent but they just chalked it up to being conscious about one’s hygiene and health. By the time he graduated from the university, they could not seem to help, until he moved out of their home.

It was while reading a book recently, that he discovered that there was a name for his condition. The main character had similar experiences and he was taken aback when he read that he had sought medical help for it. Bayo promptly checked Google for the meaning of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder- OCD and spent the whole day reading about it. By the time he was done, he was determined to talk to a Psychiatrist because he was tired of being so obsessive about random things and he wanted to be able to talk to a girl he liked without wondering if she cleaned her nostrils often or if she finds it weird to not touch other people personal stuffs without permission.

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